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For the Harvard men's hockey team, facing the RPI Engineers without its third-leading scorer, Kirk Nielsen, certainly didn't warm the hearts of the Crimson faithful.
Nielsen's absence meant that for Harvard to pull out a win, several players would have to step up and produce. Harvard would face another test when Tommy Holmes was injured early in the second period.
Having lost two of its top three scorers and trailing 3-1 entering the third period, just how possible a task was it for Crimson team to rebound? Its first line of Holmes, Nielsen and Brad Konik had scored half of the team's points this season.
Harvard was 0-6 previously when trailing after two periods, and the chips seemed to be stacked against them.
But the big three of the night--freshman Rob Millar, sophomore Henry Higdon and senior Jason Karmanos--would step to the forefront, and with three goals in the third stanza lead the Crimson to a 4-3 victory.
"Coach told us that this was the time to step up and show some character as a team," Millar said.
The freshman did just that, back-handing the puck over the shoulder of super-goalie Mike Tamburro to cut the deficit to 3-2 and provide Harvard with some much-needed kryptonite.
"Rob's really come along, and he's taking full advantage of his opportunities," coach Ronn Tomassoni said. "He's one of the more talented kids offensively."
With time winding down, the injuries seemed to be hounding the Crimson, and it was not until there was 2:55 left when Higdon would step to the spotlight, tying the game at three with his second goal of the night.
"People know that they have to step things up with all our injuries, especially for these next two weeks," Higdon said.
The game seemed destined for overtime once again, until the final unheralded hero of the three contributors would seal the comeback--Jason Karmanos' doorstep-tally gave the Crimson its first lead of the game at 4-3 with 1:26 remaining, completing the trio of underrated stars who would perhaps erase some of the fans' memories of last years playoff exit at the hands of these same Engineers.
"I think the difference tonight was that we got our chances and we capitalized on them," Karmanos said.
With the fairy tale complete, the Crimson captured not only a much-needed win, but also recaptured the hearts of the Bright faithful.
"This is just an adrenaline rush that will carry over to tomorrow's game," Millar said.
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